Subscribe to Inc. magazine

TrendWatch: U.S. Patent Reform

How could upcoming patent law changes impact your small business?


In the next few months, recent legislation will transform America's patent system. The government hopes the changes will speed innovation and create jobs. What should you expect? 

Tony Handal, a New York patent attorney and partner at Handal & Morofsky, joins's Christine Lagorio in a TrendWatch conversation about the upcoming patent changes. Handal says the the reforms won't be entirely positive for small businesses. 

Here are our TrendWatch Facts and Figures that break down key points about the U.S. patent process and changes: 

  • The bill laying out the reform enjoyed bipartisan support, winning final Senate approval 89 to 9. However, it took six years of rigorous, partisan debate before the legislature took its final form. 
  • This is the first major renovation to the U.S. patent system since 1952. 
  • The new bill will let the Patent and Trademark Office hire 2,000 new employees, and might help it clear more than 700,000 patents that await decisions, according to U.S. government figures. 
  • Patent trolls--companies that license patents, but don't actually sell goods or services--have cost inventors $500 billion since 1990, according to a new Boston University study. 
  • For instance, the United States will shift to a "first-to-file"--rather than a "first-to-invent"--patent system. The Patent and Trademark Office hopes this will reduce lawsuits and frivolous patent applications.

Join us every Monday for TrendWatch.

Last updated: Sep 26, 2011

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: